About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
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Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3: Mishna 23: Essential Laws vs Complements

"Rabbi Eliezer ben Chisma said; The laws of bird-offerings, and the laws regarding the beginning of menstrual periods - these are the essential laws; astronomy and mathematics are like the seasonings of wisdom"

The first part of the mishna talks about the bird-pair offerings that a woman must bring shortly after childbirth (as well as in other situations).  There is great discussion s regarding these sacrifices and what happens if different women mixed them up as well.

Menstrual periods refer to the necessary calculations to determine the start date of her period. They also refer to the relevant restrictions when her period begins. These can include what types of blood indicate a menstrual flow or off-cycle spotting, blood spots found on clothing...

These are called the essential laws because they are crucial in maintaining the Jewish home. A man is not allowed to look at his wife as an object of his desires but must have a relationship that is outside the physical.

This is a great protection for women as it insures proper guidelines in this area. Although this is one of the most powerful urges a person can have, G-d gave it to us to harness it properly and not abuse it. The relationship between husband and wife is enhanced tremendously if these laws are kept because the marriage is not just viewed in terms of physical satisfaction.

Astronomy and numerical values are subjects which complement the Torah. Astronomy referred here is the calculation of the cycles of the moon and the seasons. Mathematics is important for formulating the Jewish calendar and helps to reconcile the discrepancy between the lunar calendar and solar one. Each holiday must fall out in it's proper time, Passover in the spring, Sukkos in the fall and since the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the solar one, there needs to be an adjustment of the calendar to make sure the holidays fall out when they need to.

The last part of the mishna refers to numeric values or what we call gematriya which refers to assigning of number values to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet whereby alef=1, bet=2...) Certain forms of rabbinical homiletic interpretation are based on inferences made from these values.

 The reason that these two are not considered as essential is because they help demonstrate one aspect of the Torah's beauty and can illustrate the hidden wisdom of the Hebrew alphabet. We can brings hints or ideas from these things showing the power of the Torah's wisdom.

When we hear of homiletic wisdom coming from the order of the letters of a particular passage or a statement that corresponds to the numerical value of another statement is nothing short of incredible. These things enhance our study of Torah and reveal it's true hidden wisdom.

We also see the great wisdom of the rabbis who in their foresight had to come up with a way to compensate the problem that would ensue with the calendar. Without "technological" advances given to them, they were able to establish a system that would continue for all future generations.

Many often make the mistake and think that these people were "medieval", not to bright and backwards, to say the least. We see from here, just the opposite, men of great wisdom and virtue!!